Mount Hector

  • Mount Hector
  • 3394 m
  • Primary factor 1759 m
  • Canada
  • Location: North 51.57452, West 116.25948 (GPS on the summit)
  • Difficulty: YDS class 3-4, depending on conditions.
  • Climbed July 29. 2018


See this summary for a quick overview of the peaks climbed on this trip.

How to get there:

Starting from Lake Louise, drive 2km north on Hwy-1, then exit onto Hwy. 93, direction towards Jasper. Drive about 20 kilometer and locate a turn-out / parking area on your left hand side near the bottom of a pretty long uphill. This location is at N51.60258, W116.30992, with an elevation of about 1860 meter.
Route description:
The trail starts on the opposite (uphill) side of the road. Note that it starts on the right hand side of the creek, that is, one must walk a short distance right along the road when leaving the parking area. Ignore other small trails.
Follow this very clear trail gently uphill in the forest, staying on the right hand side of the creek. Soon, you will see a waterfall up ahead. The trail now enters the creek for a few meter, then crosses to the left side.
Continue up the trail as it zig-zags and gets appreciably steeper. Higher up, this main trail forks slightly left and enters an area with cliffs, climb up where you find an easy passage, this section is still YDS class 3 terrain. Above these cliffs, the trail resumes and traverses right to enter the basin above.
As you enter the basin, the main trail climbs left, leave this trail and cross the small creek to the right side. Pick up a smaller trail that ascends on the right hand side of the small creek. That is, you aim for the smaller valley, uphill right, rather than the bigger valley that is more left.
You will see a nice trail cairn as soon as you have ascended a bit up along the creek. This is a good place to cross the creek (from the right hand side to the left side), then continue ascending on easy terrain. There are smaller trails and possibly some cairns. The step in the valley a bit higher up, is easily climbed on a trail that ascends from the base of the cliff and to its left side. Continue uphill to the (horizon) ridge that runs across your little valley higher up. You will pick up a trail on top of this morraine (possibly, this is the trail that ascended left when you entered the basin.
Follow this trail as it zig-zags up to the very top of your local hill. You will (at first and in the end) see Little Hector up behind. As you gain the top of this hill, the terrain becomes level and you see an obvious little valley possibly with patches of snow, that extends pretty level below Little Hector. Follow this little valley as it contours slightly right and connects nicely with the glacier that comes down from Hector. Walk up the glacier, initially on a course that is a bit right of Hector. There are crevasses both right and left. Gradually turn left while ascending and pick a line parallel to the crevasses that you see going left uphill to an area with rock visible left of Hector. The slope is never steep and you will gain a small area with rocks at location N51.57553, W116.26077, elevation about 3280 meter. This may be a good place to put on crampons unless needed earlier.
Now ascend slightly left of Hector, then traverse right to reach an area from where one again may go left/uphill to reach the summit block of Hector. This is the best line, not very steep with reasonable conditions. You should see a very distinct crack in the rock off to the right side. With good snow, it will be trivial to walk across to it. If the slope is icy then more care is needed, perhaps an ice screw for extra protection.
Enter the crack and scramble up, there are no difficulties. As soon as you reach the top of this cliff band, zig-zag uphill on natural ledges. Be aware that there are tons of loose rock in ┬┤case you have climber(s) below. There are no more issues and you will soon be on top of Hector.
Pål Jørgen and I started out from Lake Louise shortly after 0500 and we were parked at the trailhead by 0535. Hiking at 0545, the morning was clear and crisp, it looked like a very good day.
We were soon up by the waterfall and noticed that the trail went straight up some class 3 cliffs, but only a very short section. We were soon in the basin and followed the main trail, then realized that we most likely should ascend up the smaller valley on the right side. We descended back down, crossed the creek and continued uphill. Nice terrain and easy going. We made the top of the small ridge near the base of Little Hector, in slightly less than 2 hours. we left our bear spray and then arrived at the glacier. Roping up, we continued along a nice line to the rocks at 3280 meter. A bit of postholing, but mainly easy going gaining elevation. Here, we put on crampons, as the next slope was ice with no snow on top. The slope was generally less steep than expected all the way to the rock band that guards the summit. An obvious weakness, a big crack, was our next goal. The last 3-4 meter before this crack were a bit tricky as the surface consisted of ice mixed with smaller flat rocks in such a way that our crampons did not get a good grip. Minor issue really, we were soon up on top of the crack. From here, easy going, but in a somewhat unpleasant mix of loose rocks everywhere.
We were at the summit by 1120, nice weather and impressive views. Our first day in the Canadian Rockies. We rested and took pictures. The summit register had no pen, so no trace of us left behind. We started down after 25 minutes. Except for the same 2-3 meter from the crack to more reasonable ice, where we walked rather carefully, the descent went down the same way - easier to walk in the snow when downhill.
Just as we were about to leave the glacier, two men came uphill. The time was already 1400 and I thought they were a bit late, but I guess they would still make it down before it got dark.
We returned to the car at 1440, so just below 9 hours in total trip time. Thanks to Pål for good company, the first real Canadian peak for both of us.